Organizers’ defense of Geylang Serai Bazaar rental costs as “within market rental rates” draw skepticism from netizens

Organizers’ defense of Geylang Serai Bazaar rental costs as “within market rental rates” draw skepticism from netizens

Despite complaints from some vendors and criticism from netizens regarding the high rental costs at the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar, the organizer is defending that the rental costs of its stalls are “within market rental rates.”

Local media previously reported that some vendors struggled with the “high bids needed to secure a space,” with rent ranging from S$16,000 to S$19,000 for one unit.

The Straits Times reports that one kebab stallholder claimed that despite paying $24,000 for his stall, he did not receive the promised exclusivity and had to compete with another kebab shop located less than 50 meters away.

Kf Seetoh, founder of Makansutra, had earlier commented on the bazaar and expressed surprise at the rental prices, stating that it turns it into “easily the world’s most expensive pasar malam stall offering an unproportionately cheap menu.”

However, in a release issued on Tuesday (4 Apr), the organizer clarified that the base rental for retail stalls ranged from $2,000 to $12,000, while the base rental for food stalls was between $14,000 and $19,000.

The organiser noted that stallholders selling Ramly burgers would have to pay a $4,000 premium on top of the $14,000 to $19,000 base rental, while those selling kebabs were charged a base rental of $25,000.

All food and beverage stallholders are also subject to incidental costs of between $30 and $3,100, including utilities, water supply, fans, coolers, tables, and chairs.

Additional costs to “enhance visitors’ experience”

The organisers stated that they incurred additional costs to “enhance visitors’ experience by curating concept zones” and setting up over 1,000 dining seats and tables at the bazaar, ST reported.

Additionally, they “increased security measures” by deploying more auxiliary police officers, closed-circuit televisions, and concrete blocks.

“We would like to assure to all the stallholders that we treasure and appreciate the relationship and will put in our utmost ability on the various incidents which had surfaced in the past week,” the organisers said.

Bazaar Raya Geylang Serai 2023, jointly organized by S-Lite Event Support, TLK Trade Fair and Events, and Enniche Global Trading, will end after 36 days on 21 April, which is longer than other trade fairs or bazaars that last between three and 30 days.

One of the operators justified rental per day as only S$500

In an interview by online media Plan-B, Mustaffar, the operators from Eniche Global Trading, addressed the criticism about the expensive prices and rental at the bazaar.

He claimed that it is all about “ripple effect’, “it start from top down, It begins from the tender value. What the tender value will determine distributed costs.

On the food stall rental at S$18,000, Mustaffar justified that if divided by 36 day, the rental per day would only cost S$500.

“If you go to neighbourhood Pasar Malam, if you were to choose in the prime spots of the Pasar Malam, that would be the price. That’s Pasar Malam price, it is not like Expo exhibition price which you pay see like over 1000 plus per day, like maybe three days 3 to 6000.

He said Geylang Serai bazaar for over long times, it is like an “EXPO vibe on a daily basis”.

“The value justifies it, because you’re not going far off from Pasar Malam, that is our benchmark.”


It is worth to note that the main organiser of the bazaar is the People’s Association, and it tendered out to S-Lite Event Support via a GeBiz tender at an award value of $2.26 million.

However, the organiser told CNA that the costs of setting up the bazaar came up to nearly S$2.5 million this year.

Missing the traditional bazaar vibe

The response from the organiser garnered mixed reactions among the netizens.

Some had commented that the rental was overpriced, and some believed that those vendors must have done their calculations and hence they are still able to profit from the sales after deducting the shocking high rental.

Some netizens have criticised the high prices at the Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar, questioning the authenticity of the traditional Malay food being sold and expressing concerns about the lack of healthy options.

One netizen found it amusing that the organisers labelled burgers and kebabs as “premium products.”

She commented that the organisers can use whatever label they want and charge whatever price they want, but ultimately, it is the consumers who end up paying the price.

A comment made the calculation that the stall owner would need to make at least $60k in revenue, or $2,000 per day. This equates to selling more than 500 burgers per day.

How organiser conclude the “market rental rates” draw skepticism

The organiser’s claim that its rental costs are “within market rental rates” has been met with some scepticism.

Critics have pointed out that the statement lacks a breakdown of how the costs were determined. Others suggest that it may only be comparable to neighbouring shopping centres rather than the wider market.

“Rent hike still ridiculous”

A netizen questioned how a rental cost of $14-25k could be considered within market range, calling it “daylight robbery” from the perspective of stall owners.

Another netizen made satire remark that the price at the bazaar like spending at shopping centre or restaurant:

Some believed that vendors had calculated risks before taking the stalls

While other comments questioned the excessive rental at the bazaar, a netizen reminded that the stallholders are also in it for business, “They are seasoned businesses would have done their maths and taken calculated risks before they agree to commit taking the stalls. ”

Some comments also proposed alternative suggesttion, such as decentralizing the bazaar to the heartlands and removing the exclusivity of the organizers could be a potential solution. A comment also suggested highlighting the unique and worthwhile stalls at the bazaar to support small business owners.



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